Andhra Pradesh Chief Minister N Chandrababu Naidu chose to mark his birthday with a protest against the Centre over the demand for the special status of his state. Early on Friday morning, the chief of the Telugu Desam Party (TDP) began a one-day hunger strike with other leaders in Amravati.
The protest, which will continue till 7 pm today, is intended to pressurise the National Democratic Alliance (NDA) government led by the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) at the Centre to grant special status to the southern state and the promises detailed in the Andhra Pradesh Reorganisation Act, 2014.
Such has been the political turmoil over the issue that TDP decided to break away from the NDA following resignations of the ministers of the two parties in their respective governments.
But it is interesting to note that Prime Minister Narendra Modi did not fail to wish the CM a happy birthday.
“Birthday wishes to Andhra Pradesh CM N Chandrababu Naidu Garu. I pray for his long and healthy life,” the PM wrote on Twitter while tagging the official handle of the Andhra CM who turned 68 today.
Birthday wishes to Andhra Pradesh CM N Chandrababu Naidu Garu. I pray for his long and healthy life. @ncbn
— Narendra Modi (@narendramodi) April 20, 2018
The entire TDP leadership was present at the Indira Gandhi Municipal Stadium for the day-long hunger strike. Naidu began his hunger strike after paying tributes to Dr BR Ambedkar and party founder NT Rama Rao.
Andhra Pradesh government has been at loggerheads with the Centre over the special category status, which was assured to the state at the time of its bifurcation leading to the formation of Telangana.
The BJP, at the time in Opposition, had demanded a 10 year special status for Andhra Pradesh. Though the BJP came to power in 2014, leaders in Andhra Pradesh accuse it of failing to fulfil the promise.
Protests against the Centre began intensified since the presentation of the Budget on 1 February 2018. Though the Union Finance Minister Arun Jaitley later stated that the Centre was sympathetically working on all issues concerning Andhra Pradesh and a decision on a special package would be finalised, the leaders of the TDP were not convinced.
Protests were staged in the Parliament for days leading to repeated adjournments. All the parties in Andhra Pradesh united for a state-wide shutdown in February.
Naidu has been leading the agitations ever since the Budget day. He accused the Centre of hurting the sentiments of his state by going back on its promise to give it special category status after its bifurcation.
He said that he had waited four years and made 29 trips to Delhi but got nothing except some “minor things”.